Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Drangiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Messene (Greece) founded by Epaminondas

The city of Messene came in the news lately as a candidate to be put on the list of World Heritage Sites of the UNESCO. The name of Messene did not ring a bell with me but its founder, Epaminondas, does.

Epaminondas founded Messene in 369 BC and together with Pelopidas was one of the most brilliant generals of Thebes. That happened exactly one year before later King Philip of Macedonia (the father of Alexander the Great) went to Thebes as hostage at about thirteen years of age. He stayed at the house of general and statesman Pammenes, who was befriended with Epaminondas. Philip did not waste his time in the principal city of Boeotia, which in those days was the dominant power in Greece, and kept his eyes and ears wide open.

Epaminondas had been victorious over the Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC and is mentioned in history as the supreme master of warfare before Philip II – nothing less. Well, he was the one who applied shock tactics and combined actions by both cavalry and infantry. Pelopidas was equally talented but died in 364 during battle in Thessaly, leaving Epaminondas in sole charge of Theban affairs. Eventually this skilled general was killed when facing combined forces of Athens, Sparta, Elis and Achae in 362 BC by which time Philip had returned to his homeland Macedonia. But while in Thebes, Philip would have watched how the famous and invincible Sacred Band were trained – an elite corps of three hundred Thebans. It is said that the corps was composed of 150 couples of lovers who would fight to death were it only to protect or save their partner. Ironically, the Band was entirely annihilated by Alexander fighting under his father’s command in 338 BC at Chaironeia.

But Messene was the work of Epaminondas who managed to fortify the city in 85 days, building a wall of nine kilometers long and nine meters high, strengthened by 30 guard towers. There were only two entrances, one being the Arcadia Gate to the north and the Laconia Gate to the southeast. There was enough agricultural land and an important spring (Klepsydra) inside the walls to withstand any siege – which the Spartans tried out pretty soon, of course. Messene still flourished in Hellenistic times and the Romans made it the capital the Messene State.

Today, Messene is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Peloponnese with nicely excavated and restored remains of many building like the Asclepion, the Temple of Poseidon, the Sanctuary of Demeter and the Dioskouri, the Propylaea of the Agora, the stadium and the gymnasium as well as the exceptional theatre that may have inspired even the Romans. The Arcadia Gate, next to the museum, has preserved its two square flanking towers on the outer side surrounding a circular ward of nearly 20 meters in diameter; from here the lay-out of the walls can easily be followed in the landscape.

The Peloponnese in the southern region of Greece is generally ignored by today’s tourists and is even worse off than Macedonia. It has however lots of unique and impressive remains to offer to those intrepid travels who take the time to investigate and make the effort … to be highly rewarded , and not only by the many antique remains but also by the breathtaking landscape!
[Pictures from Wikipedia]

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